I’m up early to begin my day ride. Since I don’t have to break camp I’m looking forward to a quick get away. Except… not. The wind in Arizona really is worthy of a title, like the Santa Anas or Le Mistral, but as far as I know, it’s just referred to as “that damn wind.” In any case, it seems to roar along at 40mph for days on end each spring. It took me longer to secure my tent for the day than it would have to just pack everything up. For what it’s worth, I’ve been getting pretty good at setting up a tent in the wind single handedly. First stakes, THEN poles!
I struggle with days like these. Am I a motorcyclist or photographer? Getting good photos really breaks the flow of a ride, but it’s also difficult to pass by the spectacular scenery of this part of the country, each view seemingly better than the last, without stopping for a shot. Since these spectacular views occur at least every quarter mile, and stopping on a motorcycle to retrieve your camera is a bit more complicated then if you were in a car, (even more so with the maddening wind that blows everything out of your tank bag or top case each time you open it, and whisks away your riding gloves no matter how attentive you might be) you can’t really expect to get anywhere if you’re going to get serious about your photos. So today was the sort of day I was going to have to choose to be one or the other, and, given the weather and the fact I wanted to ride several hundred miles, it made the most sense to play the role of touring motorcyclist. I missed some great shots – the light glinting out of the storm clouds onto the enormous rocky shark fin outside of Kayenta, AZ, the freshly fallen snow peeking out from behind the red rocks of Bluff, UT… it all only gives me an excuse to go back.
I dodged spring squalls, tumbleweed the size of Sub-Zero refrigerators (I am not exaggerating!), and dirt road construction zones turned to mud soup by the rain on my loop through Monument Valley and the Four Corners area. Note to self and anyone else considering the trip: the views are much better if the loop is made counterclockwise. Another excuse to return.
Time for a rest and lunch at the aptly named Twin Rocks Cafe, in Bluff, UT. Funny, on my return from this trip, the passenger sitting next to me used to live in Bluff and work at this very cafe.
Four states in one ride: Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!
I stood in a long line at the grocery for the privilege of this fine meal. More excellent dining in Chinle. Eeek. Given the wind I've been telling you about, consider the miracle of this photo, taken whilst seated upon my motorcycle in the grocery store parking lot, holding the camera in one hand, fending off more aggressive pan handlers and securing my meal from the wind with the other.
Not exactly the “Oh Glorious Light!” moment of yesterday, but the day was beautiful in a different sort of way. The gloomy weather had me thinking in black and white, so I leave you with this one photo - ghosts in the mist of Monument Valley, UT. An unusual sight for sure!
I am pleased to report that my Ducati met the mud for the first time on this ride, and my tent spent the day unattended in 40mph winds. Both remained upright!